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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Big games abound for football, basketball”

    Another year of Wildcats sports awaits us with all the high-fiving, face-painting, key-dangling, line-waiting, ups and downs that come with it. Although I know everybody will attend every game from every sport (or at least a few besides football and men’s basketball), here is the list of games you absolutely must see in person (with one exception on television) during the 2006-2007 season:

    10. Gymnastics

    Regionals, April 14, 6 p.m., McKale Center

    How many of you watch gymnastics? That’s what I thought. But the Gymcats get a fair share of fans around the Tucson community, rivaling the baseball team, and for students that couldn’t tell a handstand from a back-bend kickover, this is the time to watch gymnastics. Last year at their regional in Ames, Iowa, the Wildcats finished third, one place lower than the spot necessary to qualify for the NCAA Championships. A little student support could be the difference for junior Karin Wurm, senior Aubrey Taylor and the rest of the squad.

    9. Women’s basketball

    Stanford, TBA, McKale Center

    Last year when the Wildcats played perennial Pacific 10 Conference power Stanford and the rest of the league, they had no size. With the tallest female twins in the world in junior transfer centers Suzy and Beatrice Bofia, things could be different this time around. Last time out at home against the Cardinal, the Wildcats trailed by just three at halftime on Senior Day. Could the size add up to an upset? After everything that went wrong last year, something’s bound to go right.

    8. Baseball

    ASU, one game Sancet Stadium, one game Chase Field, TBA

    In some sports, ASU and Arizona are friendly rivals. In others, not so much. Baseball is definitely in the latter category. Two years ago former first baseman Jordan Brown hit a walk-off two-run home run to beat the Scummies on the way to the Wildcats taking four of five games in the season series. Last year will-be sophomore outfielder David Plante’s grand slam highlighted an upset win in the Challenge at Chase, as the Wildcats took three of five. You don’t want to miss what happens next in this series.

    7. Football

    LSU, Sept. 9, 3:30 p.m., ESPN 2, Tiger Stadium

    This game would be ranked higher, but not many students will be able to make the trip to Baton Rouge, La. If the Wildcats can just hang around in this game, it would be huge. This is a program that made a big deal out of winning on the road against Oregon State last year because they have played more like the Arizona Cardinals (another team on the rise) away from home in recent years. A strong showing would put the Wildcats on the path to a bowl game, especially if they carry that momentum into their showdown with Southern California (see page 27B). A win? Not impossible, but let’s not get carried away.

    6. Men’s Basketball

    UCLA, Feb. 15, TBA, FSN (if they’re not crazy), McKale Center

    A matchup of the Pac-10’s two premier programs both expected to be the class of the conference this season. The Bruins took Arizona apart three times last year, including a beating in the conference tournament semifinals last year. Although the Wildcats are used to having a target on their back, now the Bruins will get that treatment after making a run to the championship game, the type of run Arizona typically makes (think 2001). Without former guard Jordan Farmar (NBA early entrant), talent wise this is a wash. Strike up the Red Out because that means the Zona Zoo could make the difference.

    5. Softball

    UCLA, TBA, Hillenbrand Stadium

    When it comes to college softball, it’s Arizona, UCLA and everybody else. And everybody else rarely stands a chance. The two schools have won 18 of 25 total titles, and one of the programs has advanced to the championship game every year since 1987. If you want to see college softball at its best, outside of going to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series (where you can expect the Wildcats to end up again this year as a major contender on ESPN and ESPN2 must-see TV in June), this is the place to be. Not that the winner is that important, as the Bruins swept Arizona last year, but the Wildcats were crowned national champions anyways.

    4. Football

    ASU, Nov. 25, 4 p.m., FSN, Arizona Stadium

    The “”Duel in the Desert”” is always a big game, and it often makes a difference in bowl positioning and for becoming bowl eligible. The difference this year is that that description could describe Arizona as well as ASU. Sure you have to pay $10 more to get this game with the Zona Zoo pass, which definitely sucks, but this one is worth it. Last year the Wildcats seemed to be rolling to a victory when practically the whole offense got hurt (Can you say “”cheap shots””?), so there’s revenge for that to be doled out as well. If this game has bowl implications for the Wildcats, nobody has the Thanksgiving weekend excuse to be out of town.

    3. Men’s Basketball

    North Carolina, Jan. 27, TBA, CBS, McKale Center

    One of the great parts about attending Arizona is having a basketball program that schedules as well as any in the country. This matchup is no exception and could be a preview of the 2007 Final Four. As far as program histories, player talent and coaching wizards go, you couldn’t ask for a better contest. It’s a national television affair and a chance for the Zona Zoo to show the nation how to do a Red Out. For all Arizona head coach Lute Olson talks about the East Coast Bias and how much the media loves UNC’s Atlantic Coast Conference (which is true), this should be a memorable showdown. Well, as long as it’s not a repeat of last year (Tar Heels 86-69).

    2. Men’s Basketball

    Illinois rematch Dec. 2, TBA, ESPN, US Airways Center

    Every Wildcats fan remembers where they were two seasons ago when Arizona blew a seemingly insurmountable 15-point lead with four minutes to go in the Elite Eight. In a game played in the state of Illinois with the entire raucous crowd clad in bright orange, I know you were wondering what would have happened if the game were played in a more neutral site, like say, Phoenix. It’s a year and a half too late but still a great opportunity to take out your frustration on the Fightin’ Illini, so there’s no excuse for not making the drive up to Phoenix. The best part? This Illini squad doesn’t have guards Deron Williams, Dee Brown or Luther Head. That should be enough for an Arizona blowout.

    1. Football

    USC, Sept. 23, 5 p.m., ABC, Arizona Stadium

    The last time an overrated (and probably undefeated) Los Angeles team came to town, the Wildcats played their best game in a decade, thoroughly dominating then-No. 7 UCLA 52-14 during Homecoming last year. But this isn’t soft UCLA. This is USC, the squad that had a 34-game winning streak snapped in the Rose Bowl. Better yet, this one will be a primetime game shown to a national audience, which doesn’t exactly happen every day to Arizona football. With Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Lendale White in the pros, Arizona’s aggressive defense might actually have a chance. And if the Wildcats win this one, even in September, you can officially start thinking about…

    The postseason

    The Arizona football program hasn’t been to a bowl game since 1998, but the talent is in place for this to be the year, and although the men’s basketball team is a little more familiar with postseason play (they’ve only been there the past 22 years), nothing beats March Madness.

    If you need to know why to watch these events, you better check your pulse.

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